I’ve talked before about how direct sales gets a bad reputation in the business world. While there are some companies that are legitimately preying on people to take their money they do not actually fit the definition of direct sales solely because they typically offer no real product. I want to talk about the hundreds of companies, probably thousands, out there that offer people legitimate work opportunities and how/why they get that bad reputation.
There are several things that I think contribute to the issue of bad reputation and I think they are mostly people problems. Bad sponsors, lack of work ethic, and lack of personal accountability I believe to be the biggest contributors to high turn over. And here is why I think that:
I think that we can all agree that running a business is hard work, time consuming, and often tedious. I think we can also agree that it isn’t for everyone. Success in and of itself isn’t for everyone purely from the amount of work it is to achieve and maintain. Which is why I think some people go into direct sales thinking it will be a get rich quick option and that is just false. It is a job and like any job if you don’t do the work it won’t last long. The difference here is that there is no boss threatening you with corrective action to help motivate you those days, weeks, and months where you just don’t feel like working. And in a business that is based almost entirely on the relationships you build, you just do not have the luxury of not working your business. If you are in direct sales and struggling I highly suggest reading my post on whether or not direct sales is right for you (here) to determine if this is a venture you should continue. You can only stumble along in this business for so long before you need a plan that you are consistent with. Follow-up, relationship building, marketing, all these things take time and effort to do moderately well. Dedicate the time to working and learning your business and you’ll increase your chances of success significantly.
If you have been paying attention to the direct sales world, lately there has been a certain company in the news because of policy changes and consultants, former and current, are coming out telling the world how they were pressured into things and duped by the company. These things do happen and there are companies that do take advantage of people but for the purposes of this discussion let’s assume the company is blameless. Instead, I think part of the problem here is personal accountability which I’ll discuss in a moment, and the other part bad sponsors. Sponsor is the word I use for the person you sign up under. The first stop of your upline, the person who should be showing you the ins and outs of the business and making sure you know how to do things from an effective and legal standpoint. Being a sponsor does not equate to being a good leader and sometimes sponsors are so ambitious that they ignore rules, or laws, and misrepresent things about their business to gain recruits. Beyond usually being a violation of FTC laws it also sets up these new consultants to have a harder time. They may struggle with learning how to do things the proper way or continue to mislead people or stagnate. This is why picking a sponsor can be very important. Especially if you need someone helping you over being more of a lone wolf wanting to figure it out for yourself. Check out my post here on picking a sponsor.
Lastly let’s talk personal accountability. Related to the above you also need to take accountability for your successes and more importantly your failures. Read the fine print, learn the rules, research and train yourself. While having a sponsor who is there to teach you and guide you sounds great it is also unrealistic. I post information regularly for my team to help them start and build their businesses. It is their responsibility to use it and implement it. I don’t know their lives to know what is reasonable for them or how to modify ideas to make them work for them. Only they can do that. The other part of this is understanding that a lot of things you try will not succeed and you need to use that failure to keep trying. Sometimes I post something I think is really clever and thoughtful and have 0 engagment. Sometimes I share a cat video because I chuckled and people go crazy for it. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to what people will respond to and if I took every time a post bombed personally I’d never post again. Try to gain the perspective that each failure helps you hone in on the way that will work by eliminating something that doesn’t.
In essence these three things can make a cocktail that makes an entire industry look shady when it is more an issue with the people. Yes, companies should take responsibility for their rogue consultants but if they are not being reported the company may not know. This is also why it is very important to make sure you research a company, sponsor, and yourself before joining direct sales. Doing that due diligence can save you a lot of heartache.